December 23, 2006

Shameless Plug: How to Avoid the Last-Minute Mall Madness ….

Filed under: General — Tom @ 4:13 pm
cymnow

…. and give an affordable gift (possibly to yourself!)
that will pay for itself many times over:

Weekend Question 3: What Was Tar-Che Target Thinking?

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 3:37 pm

Misguided Che chic gets reversed (HT Michelle Malkin):

Che Guevara CD case pulled from shelves
By Michele Gershberg

Target Corp said on Friday it had pulled a CD carrying case bearing Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s image after an outcry by critics who label the Marxist revolutionary a murderer and totalitarian symbol.

Target had touted a music disc carrying case for Che admirers emblazoned with the Argentine-born guerrilla’s iconic 1960 portrait by Alberto Diaz, or “Korda.” A set of small earphones was superimposed on the image, suggesting he was tuned in to an iPod or other music player.

“It is never our intent to offend any of our guests through the merchandise we carry,” Target said in a statement. “We have made the decision to remove this item from our shelves and we sincerely apologize for any discomfort this situation may have caused our guests.”

(Aside: Leave it to a Reuters reporter to say that Che is “labeled” those things;
Ms. Gershberg, he WAS those things. Zheesh.)

Between the Che chic just described, Target’s still-unpopular ban of the Salvation Army kettles, and Wal-Mart’s embrace of gay activism *, the discounters have not had a very exemplary year.

Maybe the fact that the discounters are so frequently shooting themselves in the foot is one of the reasons (along with consumers’ real incomes going up) that department stores like Federated’s Macy’s are having a bang-up Christmas shopping season.

* – a big mistake by Wal-Mart, not because of the issue involved, but because that’s not what companies are in business for. It almost led (4th item at link) to a crippling Thanksgiving weekend boycott, leading it at nearly the last minute to totally back away from any causes unrelated to serving customers. This is the position the company should have held all along.

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UPDATE: Thanks to Memeorandum for making this post the first link to the story at its site.

UPDATE, Dec. 25, 9:30 PM: OpinionJournal.com’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady looks at the Che myth, and compares it to compares it to the horrid, brutal reality.

Weekend Question 2: What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 3)

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,TWUQs — Tom @ 12:28 pm

Last year, I sensed that journalists in general prefer to call this time of the year in commerce that of “holiday shopping” instead of “Christmas shopping,” but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to “Christmas.”

My instincts were proven correct, as you can see below from the results of three different sets of Google News searches in November and December (links to last year’s related posts are here, here, and here):

ChristmasSearch2005Results

I’ve decided to track the same items this year to see if there is any noticeable change or trend.

Here are all three sets of Google News searches during this Christmas season, compared to last year (the Dec. 22, 2006 searches were done at about noon; the posts on the previous two searches are here and here):

ChristmasSearchVeryTermsFnl_06v05

Wal-Mart, Macy’s, and others may be embracing “Christmas” as a permissible word again, but reporting about shopping during the 2006 Christmas season still leans overwhelmingly towards “holiday shopping.” As to layoffs, their association with “Christmas” has gone down a bit in the past year, and actually dropped off in the final pre-Christmas search, where the tendency to associate Christmas with layoffs was 2-1/2 times greater than the association with shopping (down from about 3-1/2 times as often in the last search a year ago).

Still, what I concluded at the end of last year (with minor editing) was again proven to be true in 2006:

It seems beyond dispute that there is a strong bias against using the word “Christmas” to describe not only the shopping season, as noted above, but also events, parades, and festivals that happen during the Christmas season. There is, however, a bit of an exception — “Christmas” is a word that is much more acceptable to use when “Scrooge” employers are letting people go.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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Previous Posts:
Dec. 9, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 2)
Nov. 26, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 1)
Nov. 11, 2006 — Will Christmas Be a Four-Letter Word This Year?
Dec. 22, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE 2)
Dec. 7, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE)
Nov. 29, 2005 — What Time of Year Is It?
Nov. 23, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year

Weekend Question 1: Has Jeb Bush Gotten Enough Credit for What He Has Done as Florida’s Governor?

Filed under: Economy,Education,Taxes & Government,TWUQs — Tom @ 10:01 am

ANSWER: He has received a lot, but it’s almost impossible for him to get too much.

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This BizzyBlog post in June pegged off of a Weekly Standard column by Fred Barnes that ran down Florida’s impressive economic progress during Jeb Bush’s eight years as governor.

But this little nugget that I found in the course of what was going to be another Ho-Hum Hiring Headline post really puts Jeb’s tenure into perspective, especially compared to other states:

More than one-third of all jobs created in the United States during the past five years have been created in Florida, according to Tax Watch Center for a Competitive Florida.

Florida’s population of 18,090,000 per the latest Census Bureau release (Excel file) as of July 1, 2006 means that it has barely more than 6% of the nation’s population. So Florida’s share of job growth has been running at a rate that is over 5 times faster than the rest of the nation (33% divided by 6%) based purely on population — and it’s really more impressive than that, because the Sunshine State’s relatively high retiree population means that its workforce participation rate is lower. I reviewed the past three years of Bureau of Labor Statistics data (Nov. 2003 through Oct. 2006), and Florida has added 789,300 jobs during that time, and its overall employment has grown by about 9%.

Here’s a capsule reminder of Barnes’ economy-related points about Jeb Bush from his column earlier this year:

  • Political leadership: ….. he’s changed the policy debate from how much government can do to how much it should leave to the people and the free market. “That’s his greatest effect,” says Robert McClure of the Bush-friendly James Madison Institute in Tallahassee.
  • The economy: It’s bursting at the seams. Florida is no longer totally reliant on tourism, agriculture, and the retiree industry. Under Bush, Florida has become the fourth largest high-tech state. Its bond rating has been hiked to Triple A.
  • Taxes: Bush has slashed $20 billion in taxes over eight years and enjoys the heartburn this gives the media and liberals. “I do love it,” he says. ….. His tax cuts are all the more shocking in a state with no income tax but with a balanced budget requirement.
  • Education: Bush’s education reforms have been vindicated by scholarly studies. Jay Greene and Marcus Winters of the Manhattan Institute found testing to end social promotion in Florida schools had led to “substantial academic gains for low-performing schools.” ….. The percentage of African-American fourth graders reading at grade level doubled to 56 percent from 1999 to 2005.

This statement from his farewell a couple of days ago puts a fine exclamation point on what Jeb Bush has done:

“I really honestly believe we have made a difference,” Bush said. “My core belief at the end of the day is that if we can just build the field of dreams, just build the fertile ground if you will that allows people, individuals and families, to pursue their own dreams there will be more prosperity, more innovation and more good things happening than any government program ever created.”

“I believe that when I got here. And I believe it just as much as a leave.”

Is it too late for everyone to ignore his last name and draft him?

Positivity: Stranger Gets Marines Home for the Holidays

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 7:01 am

From San Francisco to Denver (HT Michelle Malkin):

Chance meeting leads to 23-hour van trip to Colorado

December 22, 2006

As far as Stacey Kible is concerned, Santa drives a Ford Windstar.

Kible was despairing that her son Matt Kible, a 20-year-old Marine, would not make it home for Christmas. Matt, who is stationed in Japan, was stranded at San Francisco International Airport. He was told that he probably wouldn’t be able to get a flight to Denver until Christmas Day.

Matt Kible met three fellow Marines at the airport, all of them trying to get back to Denver. Two were returning from Iraq.

The four young Marines commiserated that they might not be able to be with their families at Christmas. None of them was old enough to rent a car, and the blizzard that descended on Denver seemed about to ruin their plans.

“Our hopes and dreams were shot when they told us we couldn’t get home for Christmas Eve,” said Chris Redlin, a 21-year-old Marine from Aurora who is also stationed at Okinawa.

Then a stranger came bearing gifts.

“We thought we were out of luck, and then this guy named Paul, out of nowhere, just walked up to us,” Matt Kible said. “He said he lives in Englewood and could rent a car.”

The next thing they knew, Paul Deines and four Marines were in a van on their way to Colorado.

“I’m a veteran myself,” said Deines, 50, who served in the Navy. “I know how it is, being away from home on Christmas. I said, ‘Let’s get together and do something about it.’ ”

Deines had been in San Francisco on vacation.

He said the group drove straight through for 23 hours to get back to Denver. They ran into snow at Glenwood Springs, but made it over Vail Pass and got into Denver on Thursday afternoon, just as the blizzard was ending.

“That’s what happens when people get together and help each other out,” Deines said.

For the Kible family of Centennial, Christmas this year will be especially meaningful because of the kindness of a stranger.

“It was such a nice thing for Paul to do,” Stacey Kible said. “He rented that van to get these boys home for Christmas. To me, that’s truly the spirit of giving and the spirit of Christmas.”